A man, determined to find the meaning of life, sets out to climb one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. He has heard that atop that peak, living in a cave, lives the wisest man in the world, the one who knows the truth of all things and the meaning of life.

After a long and nearly fatal climb, the exhausted man reaches the top of the mountain. He finds the cave and presents himself to the elderly gentleman residing within.

What life is not.

“Oh Great Wise One,” says the climber, “I have come to hear your words of wisdom. Enlighten me. Tell me the meaning of life.”

“Life,” says the Wise One without hesitation, “Is a bowl of cherries.”

The man is outraged by this facetious answer. “Bowl of cherries!!” he shouts, “What kind of answer is that?”

“You mean,” says the Wise One, ” … it’s not a bowl of cherries?”

They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I am not that tough. When life starts to overwhelm me with questions for which I have no answers, I tuck the problem on a mental shelf. I buy a pink plastic flamingo and name him Fred. I take some pictures. Or I write something.

None of this solves the problem, but every so often, if I procrastinate long enough, the problem goes away. Sometimes.

When you don’t have any other brilliant ideas, denial and delay are always worth a shot.


This has been a weird week. I do not say this lightly. It is the kind of week from which great after dinner stories come, though it might take a while before our curdled brains settle down and we get everything in order.


Exactly a week ago, our granddaughter had a blow up with her mother, with whom she usually lives. Of course, being mostly out of touch with both Kaity and her mom, we didn’t know anything about this until our son, Kaity’s father, came by to explain that Kaity and Sandy were in a bad place. Oh, and by the way, Kaity is on her way over. As he said that, there was Kaity. With boyfriend and puppy. And all her belongings. Moving in.

Garry was in the bathroom, so imagine his surprise when he came out and discovered Kaity was in the process of moving in. He looked a bit dazed, but recovered his feet pretty fast.

Two days later, Kaity yells up the stair to tell us she is moving out. Mom’s doing better and see you later. Maybe I’ll be back.

The next day, Owen’s coworker needed a place to stay. Recovering alcoholic, but hey, who isn’t a recovering something, right? He gave us some cash for the room and moved all his stuff in. He and Garry really hit it off and everything was good.

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The next day, I noticed he hadn’t come home and when I went down to check, he — and all his stuff — was gone. I called Owen. Owen said Kirk had not shown up at work, either … but had told the boss he’d checked himself into rehab. I guess that was some shaky wagon he was on.

Not a word to us or Owen.

Today is Sunday again. A week has passed since the drama began. Garry lost his bag, found his bag. Kaity moved in, moved out, and went back to mom. Kirk is somewhere in time and space and good luck to him.

Our saga continues as nightly, until the wee hours, Garry and I follow the adventures of Angel, the Vampire with a soul.

I think the problem is demons. We are infested with demons and they are wreaking havoc with our lives. It’s the only possible explanation.



It used to be a standing joke when we were in college. How we were all “searching for ourselves” and then we would laugh uproariously because it sounded so pretentious.

Many long decades have passed since then. It turns out, life is a process of defining identity. We are all permanently searching for ourselves, then redefining what we find. Over and over again, we refine our self-definitions — our identity — as we experience the stuff life throws at us.


I am not the person I started out to be. Nor am I the person I was when I was young, then older, then older still.

I am always becoming. My identity will never be finished or fully defined. Yet I am who I am and no one could mistake me for anyone other than me. We are each a unique riddle wrapped in a mystery. We are laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, fear and hope. A bundle of contradictions.

Whatever identity we have, it’s a moving target with lots of labels. All of which are true and none of which are complete.




1 Corinthians

11   When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12   For now we see as in a mirror darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I too am known.

I’m not usually big on quoting the bible, but sometimes — and this is one of those times — no place says it better.

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I was an “old” child. When I was very young, I talked like a much older person. I read “adult person” literature and thought of myself as very mature. I wasn’t. I was intellectually precocious, but still a child. Who used big words and almost understood many adult things.


Almost. There are a whole lot of things that simply don’t make sense until you’ve lived a life. Reading about life isn’t living it. A child, no matter how smart, is never more mature than his or her years and experience. That’s perspective.

Perspective isn’t static. At 10, you see things through 10-year-old eyes. As years and decades roll on, you see the same things differently, sometimes extremely so. Perhaps you really do see through a glass darkly. Or you should. If decades of living don’t change your perspective, something is wrong — with you or the life you’ve lived. We are supposed to change. The only things that don’t change are dead.

I hear people my age or even younger saying “Well, that’s the way I am. I’m not going to change.”

Yeats' Grave

There’s a terrible finality in that statement. A sad finality, like a eulogy for “self.”

Someday, I’ll be too old or sick for change. The end comes to everyone. But until then, I hope my perspective keeps changing. I hope I revise my opinions often and contradict myself frequently.




Jealousy or envy, the big green monster. Unless you live in Boston, in which case it’s a big, green, left-field wall. Just saying.

I’m not much given to envy. With the following exceptions:

  1. People who live near ancient ruins. I want to dig!
  2. People who grew up with horses. I want your childhood.
  3. Anyone who has a house with no stairs. I’ll swap you.


So, I’m pretty much good to go. I’ve got problems, but so does everyone else. Life hasn’t been easy, but it has also been incredibly interesting. Rich with experiences. I’ve got a great marriage, a few terrific friends, dogs, a home, a good little car, lots of books, and a huge, high-definition television. And we live reasonably near Fenway Park.


If someone would like to round out my life by donating a largish sum of cash, I’d give you a big hug and a thank you. Beats out what you’ll get from donating the same amount to a some politician’s PAC, doesn’t it?

Otherwise, I’m good. So is life.



The universe is telling me to focus on love. What is it saying to you?

Just one?

I cannot fit my love into one image. There is too much I love. People, activities, art, beauty, nature.

And then, there’s life. Which is love.



What would you ask for if a genie granted you three wishes?


Health for me and those I love. And universal health care for absolutely everyone.

Wealth sufficient to live comfortably without a constant struggle.

Wisdom to understand what it’s all about. All of it. Everything.

What experiences are most meaningful to you?

Everything is experience. Everything has meaning and value. Every breath is an experience. As you age, it’s hard to remember the details of what happened along the way, even when it seemed terribly important at the time. If nothing else, age puts everything into perspective. Even perspective.

I don’t believe any single life experience is the “aha” moment.

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As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

  1. I wanted to be a cowboy, but I lacked a horse. And to be fair, there’s not a lot of positions open for girls from Queens.
  2. I yearned to be a ballerina, but I was a klutz.
  3. I thought I could be writer because even when I was very young, I was writing stories and stuff. Writing won the toss. It was the right call.

A life path is not exclusively about what one wants. It’s also what you’ve got to work with. Like talent. Creative vision. Ambition and drive to succeed. Plus so many other qualities you never know about — until you need them.

Complete this sentence: The best day of my life was … I have no idea. Really. I don’t. I can tell you my favorite year (1969). But best day? No clue. At this point, the best day is probably tomorrow.

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